James Chul Rim began his music career in 2008 with an internship at The Boom Boom Room Studios in Burbank, CA. The studio became his second home, working day and night and eventually becoming Head Engineer. Over the years, he worked closely with many A-List Artists, Producers, Songwriters, and Engineers, learning the subtle art and craft of music production.
In 2012 he set out on his own as a freelance engineer, working with new clients, giving him the challenges needed to take his skills to the next level (by delving more into different aspects of producing, mixing, vocal tuning, sound design, and midi programming). His past clients include; Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Willow Smith, Raury, Chloe & Halle, SZA, Meek Mill, YG, DJ Mustard, Ciara, Jill Scott, Jamie Foxx, Tyler The Creator, Frank Ocean, Aloe Blacc, Justin Bieber, The Dream, P. Diddy, and more.
We got in touch with James after hearing his production on Willow’s infectious, “Wait A Minute” and got a chance to sit down with him to discuss his career and tips in the studio.
What’s the first thing you do when you open a session?
Organize. Sessions are like maps for me so I need to visually arrange everything and take inventory of what’s in the song. Once it’s in my brain I can do the work in my head way faster. Then I make the changes in Pro Tools to match what I’m hearing internally.
Do you have any tips for upcoming producers and engineers?
Don’t ever get comfortable and think you got it all figured out. There are infinite levels to this and to find and maintain success you have to keep growing and moving forward. Beyond just music there are other aspects to learn; business, branding, legal, psychological (music people are all crazy), etc.
What are your 5 most used plugins or current favorite plugins?
Slate VMR, Izotope Ozone, Valhalla Vintage Verb, Soundtoys Effect Rack, Fabfilter Pro Q-2
What are some of your favorite VSTs?
Battery 4, Omnisphere, Arcade, Rev
What’s the best tip you could give about recording vocals and guitar?
Focus mainly on how they sound coming out of the speakers raw, don’t worry so much about gear and what plugins you have.
Do you prefer to engineer your own sessions when you are producing?
For me engineering and producing are the same thing, so yes I prefer it because I get to lay the foundations that the whole song will be built on.
What was one defining moment in your career?
I don’t think that moment has happened yet. I’ve been doing my thing for 10 years now, but I’m still growing and developing constantly. I always feel like I’m still green.
What’s your favorite song that you mixed and/or produced?
Don’t have a favorite production, but favorite recent mixes are on the new ¿Téo? Album. The whole project was a big challenge and a learning experience. I felt like I leveled up a lot just by completing it.
Who are some of your biggest influences and why?
They’re mostly non-musical. I look to people doing big things in tech, film, sports, and culinary fields and pull from their approach and apply it to what I do.
What are you listening to right now?
Honestly, I don’t listen to a lot of music besides what I’m doing for work. I listen to podcasts more than anything. It’s one of the best ways to learn while you’re stuck in traffic.
How do you feel about the current state of music?
Tech has helped level the playing field so everybody has an opportunity to create and distribute their music which is great. The problem is everybody has an opportunity to create and distribute their music which is chaotic af. But I feel like a renaissance moment is happening and once the dust settles it’ll be the greatest time for music.
Tell us about a time when you needed to change your production style to accommodate an artist.
Every-time. Adaptation is key to everything I do. Everybody works differently and wants different results from their work. So I try to take a fresh approach every-time.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t working on music?
Literally nothing. I’ve worked so much over the years, I really just enjoy doing nothing.
Is there any artist you want to work with that you haven’t had an opportunity to yet?
Anybody that’s different from what I’ve already done. The more random the better. K-Pop might be fun since I’m Korean American, my mom would be happy.